Cary’s Favorite Weekday Afternoon Cartoons!

A week or two ago I wrote a blog about my favorite Saturday morning cartoons.  That got me to thinking about cartoons during the week that I watched and liked, so I decided to write a blog about my favorite weekday afternoon cartoons as well.

With 24-hour kid cable channels, DVR, and the Internet, I don’t think kids today understand how special kid-time on the TV was back when I was young.  Aside from Saturday morning, the only other times you could get kid programming back then was either early morning or afternoons.  Coming home from school, us kids needed to unwind, so watching a few cartoons was a great way to settle down and get ready for dinner and homework.  Many of these kinds of cartoons were not as good, or they were reruns in syndication, but there were a few that would stand out, and those are what’s on my list.

As last time, here are the rules for my list.  This list isn’t in any order of preference.  Some of the ones on this list I just have good memories of watching as a kid, and they may not be of very high quality.  And finally, many shows were both on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  But only the ones I have better memories of watching on weekday afternoons made the list.  OK enough of that, let’s get started!


I watched a LOT of weekday afternoon cartoons as a kid.  When you’re a kid, you’re not that picky.  One of the trends in cartoons in the 80’s was to base them off of popular toy lines.  They still do that today, too, but it ran really rampant in the 80’s.  Boys had stuff like He-Man, G.I. Joe, and M.A.S.K., and girls had stuff like Strawberry Shortcake, She-Ra, and Care Bears.  When I was a kid, my mom would watch a lot of the neighborhood kids at our house, so I even watched the girl cartoons since there was always one girl in the crowd.  Just because we were kids doesn’t mean we were jerks.  We were fair.

Anyway, I never really did get into these cartoons.  But one day when my dad came back from a business trip, he brought me back a Transformers toy.  It was Ironhide, who could turn into a red van and ended up being my favorite character for that reason.  I loved the ‘irony’ that all the other robots turned into cool vehicles like trucks and tanks and bulldozers, and Ironhide was the ‘soccer mom’ of the bunch.  Plus he was cool in the cartoon.  Speaking of which, after I got the toy, I decided to watch the cartoon to see what all the fuss was about, and I was hooked.  Sure the cartoon wasn’t very good, but when you’re a kid, you don’t care.  As long as your favorite toys are doing cool stuff on the TV, kids will watch it.  So for the next year and a half or so, I was totally into Transformers.

You know what got me OUT of Transformers?  The Transformers animated movie, which was a big deal back then.  I just didn’t like how they killed off the old toy line to make room for new ones.  Send them off on a mission that’ll take them centuries to complete, but don’t just kill them off.  Ironhide died in the worst way, too: being shot point blank in the head by Megatron!  I know some could argue why they did it that way, but this is still a kid’s toy line, folks.  Plus, the next season of the cartoon after that which was in the future after the movie wasn’t very good either.  So I kind of lost interest after that.  Maybe I was just getting older and growing out of it, too.

Disney Afternoon

OK I know this is cheating because there were a lot of cartoons in the Disney Afternoon lineup, but this is my list and I’ll do it how I want.  Some of these cartoons were out before the Disney Afternoon block, though.  In the late 80’s, cartoons that were 30-minute commercials for toys were running so rampant that even I got sick of it as a kid, and stopped watching most cartoons for a while.  That’s pretty sad right there.  When a TV station announced DuckTales was coming on soon, I still wasn’t interested.  But as luck would have it, I was sick that Sunday that they were going to show the DuckTales premier, so my mom wheeled the TV cart into my bedroom and since I had nothing better to do, I watched it.  I was totally impressed with DuckTales because not only was it NOT based on an existing toy line; it was very well-written and animated, too.  So I started watching it after that and DuckTales helped rekindle my ‘faith’ in cartoons.

A year or so later, Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers was introduced.  Even though DuckTales was the better show, Rescue Rangers was always my favorite Disney Afternoon cartoon for some reason.  Chip N Dale have always been my favorite Disney characters, and I even met their creator.  Rescue Rangers is just cartoon ‘comfort food’ and always makes me smile, no matter what.

The Disney Afternoon block started when TaleSpin was introduced, and TaleSpin was another great cartoon with an interesting setting and was geared toward older viewers.  After that was Darkwing Duck, which was a DuckTales spinoff and a great super hero parody.  Unfortunately, after that we got Goof Troop, which was awful.  The Aladdin cartoon was hit or miss, and Gargoyles was all right, but after that I didn’t watch much Disney Afternoon anymore.  But that was also about the time that Warner Bros. started stepping up their weekday afternoon animation and I gravitated more toward their cartoons after that.

Super Mario Bros. Super Show

OK one last weekday afternoon cartoon from the 80’s.  Like I said in my Saturday morning cartoon blog, before the Internet, us gamers had to get our video game fix in other ways, and this cartoon was one of them.  Sure it was awful, but we ate up anything based on Mario back then.  The animated parts were at least tolerable, but the live action stuff was horrible.  Although I do like Captain Lou Albano’s (RIP) voice of Mario better than the high pitched voice Mario has now.  I loved how they tried to make you all excited for the Zelda cartoon at the end of the week.  The Zelda cartoon was terrible, too, but I watched it a lot as well.


In the 90’s I was in high school and college and didn’t have as much time for cartoons what with high school marching band and college studying.  But I was still able to watch some late afternoon cartoons, and this was my favorite.  Animaniacs was the most ‘adult’ cartoon on weekday afternoons, and it was hilarious.  Favorites include Pinky and the Brain (which got its own spinoff show), The Goodfeathers, and more!  My friends and I loved this cartoon in high school, and it still holds up very well today.  Too bad the same can’t be said with the Animaniacs predecessor, Tiny Toons.  I watched a lot of Tiny Toons as well, but watching it again recently I have to say it hasn’t held up as well.  But I still have to give it credit because some episodes were very good (like the baby Plucky Duck ones), and if it weren’t for Tiny Toons, we wouldn’t have Animaniacs, as that is a spinoff of Tiny Toons.

Batman: The Animated Series

After Animaniacs, the cartoon they would show following that was Batman: The Animated series.  Normally I don’t usually get into super hero stuff, but this one was so well-written.  And because I watched so much of it back then, I have more knowledge of Batman than any other super hero.  So when I go see a Batman movie, watch someone play Arkham Asylum, or review the upcoming LEGO Batman 3 and see characters like Killer Croc or Harley Quinn, I can say, “Hey I know who they are!”  I generally can’t do that with other super heroes.


I really shouldn’t put this on my list, since I watched it on weekday mornings mostly.  But I’m going to put it on here anyway because I feel like it.  Back in college when I was writing for The Dallas Morning News, I requested that I cover everything Pokemon related when it came out.  My editor was like, “sure, whatever,” but I knew that Pokemon would be big here after seeing how popular it got in Japan and how Nintendo was going to market it in the US.  But my editor didn’t know that at the time and didn’t care either.  So once it hit, I was writing Pokemon articles left and right.  I like to say that Pokemon helped pay my way through college!  To help keep myself knowledgeable on all things Pokemon, I watched the cartoon, too (hey, you would too if you were being paid for it).  When I was in college I lived in Austin, and the channel there only showed it in the mornings.  I’m sure I drove my roommate crazy watching it every morning before class, but one funny thing happened one time.  After a few weeks they started showing reruns again, and when they showed the first episode I was about to turn off the TV and my roommate said, “Wait, I want to see how it all started!”  I always recorded the episodes on videotape, and then I’d bring them to my little brothers to keep and watch when I would visit home.  They were always excited about that.  Even though I don’t watch the cartoon anymore, I have to say that it is one of the better video game based cartoons out there.  And certainly one of the longest running ones!

Toonami & Cartoon Network

After college, it was a little difficult for me to find a job at first, especially since I’ve been blind in my left eye since birth and can’t drive a car.  So for the first couple of years after college, I mostly helped out around the house, taking care of my little brothers and such.  We watched a lot of afternoon TV when it was too hot to go outside, so I watched a lot of things with them like Power Rangers and Digimon (that cartoon was actually pretty good).  When my brother Jeff was in school and too young to walk home by himself, I walked to and from school with him every day.  In the afternoons, we’d watch cartoons together, too.  Around this time, kid’s anime was getting really popular, so in the afternoons we’d watch a program block on Cartoon Network called Toonami.  Jeff enjoyed a cartoon called Zoids, and we both liked watching others like Hamtaro and the original Dragon Ball (which is much better than DBZ, I think).  Other stations followed suit, and we enjoyed watching stuff like Digimon and Flint: The Time Detective.  But I finally got a job about the time that Jeff was old enough to walk home from school by himself, so that was the end of that!

Keeping it Local

One last thing I wanted to talk about is something else that kids today don’t get to experience, and that’s local kid’s TV programming.  This has been around since the 50’s and 60’s, and usually starred a host dressed as a clown, cowboy, spaceman, or even King Koopa (yeah), hosting an afternoon block of cartoon shows.  There were two of these I remember when I was a kid.  One was called Peppermint Place, and starred a dapper gentleman named Mr. Peppermint wearing a red and white striped suit and his raccoon puppet friend Muffin.  This show was really more like Captain Kangaroo, though.  Unfortunately, the man who played Mr. Peppermint passed away a year or two ago.  Another one was on a local station during weekday afternoon and it was called “BJ and Lester’s Cartoon Clubhouse.”  They mostly played classic cartoons, from well-known stuff like Looney Tunes and Popeye, to lesser known ones like Deputy Dawg and Woody Woodpecker.  In between, BJ and his dog puppet Lester would show kid’s illustrations and pictures of viewers’ pets and such.  The neat thing is that these folks are still around today.  The man who played BJ works in local theater.  I know this because a friend from work knows who he is, and he sent her a text letting me know how he is doing.  Unfortunately, the guy who did the puppeteering for Lester the dog has Alzheimer’s now.  If any of you reading this lived in the North Texas area in the 80’s, you might remember these shows, too.  I think that’s one of the reasons why I like Mystery Science Theater 3000 is because it feels like a local TV show, especially the Joel episodes (but then, it started out as a local show, too).


And that’s all for now!  One thing I wanted to also mention is that when I was a kid, they showed a lot of old cartoons as reruns in the afternoon, and that’s how I was familiar with stuff like Wacky Races, Scooby Doo, Top Cat, etc.  Of course, now that I have a full time job, I don’t get to watch weekday afternoon cartoons anymore.  But that’s OK, there are not a whole lot of new cartoons I care to watch anyway.  In the comments section, please tell me what you think of my picks and let me know your favorite weekday afternoon cartoons!  I think next time I do a cartoon blog; it may be about my favorite prime time cartoons!  Later!  –Cary

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!